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Measuring Regional Backwardness: Poverty, Gender, and Children in the Districts of India


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  • Borooah, Vani
  • Dubey, Amaresh


This paper examines regional disparity in India from the perspective of the smallest geographical unit for which a consisent set of data is available: the district. By doing so, we are able to focus on pockets of deprivation rather than viewing deprivation as a phenomenon affecting a state or a region in its entirety: ‘forward’ states have deprived districts while ‘backward’ states have districts that are not deprived. Consistent with the United Nations’ Human Development Index, the paper examines deprivation from a broader perspective than that of simply income. More specifi cally, it looks at six indicators of district-level deprivation: the poverty rate; the food scarcity rate; the (gender-sensitive) literacy rate; the infant mortality rate; the immunisation rate; and the sex ratio for 0–6 year olds. The central conclusion that emerges from this study is that different districts were ‘most backward’ on different metrics. Districts in Orissa were the poorest; districts in Arunchal Pradesh had the highest rates of food scarcity; districts in Bihar and Jharkhand had the lowest rates of literacy; tribal districts in the North-East, along with districts in Bihar and Jharkhand, had the lowest rates of immunisation; districts in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had the highest rates of infant mortality; and districts in Punjab and Haryana had the lowest (0–6 years) sex ratios.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19426.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Publication status: Published in Margin - The Journal of Applied Economic Research 4.1(2007): pp. 403-440
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19426

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Keywords: India; Districts; Backwardness;

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  1. Bao, Shuming & Chang, Gene Hsin & Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Woo, Wing Thye, 2002. "Geographic factors and China's regional development under market reforms, 1978-1998," China Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 89-111.
  2. Sylvie Demurger & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Wing Thye Woo & Shuming Bao & Gene Chang & Andrew Mellinger, 2002. "Geography, Economic Policy and Regional Development in China," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research 1950, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Cowell, Frank A & Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "How Much Inequality Can We Explain? A Methodology and an Application to the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 421-30, March.
  4. Shorrocks, A F, 1982. "Inequality Decomposition by Factor Components," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 193-211, January.
  5. Cai, Fang & Wang, Dewen & Du, Yang, 2002. "Regional disparity and economic growth in China: The impact of labor market distortions," China Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 197-212.
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  1. Bare facts (Maoist edition)
    by Pragmatic in Pragmatic Euphony on 2011-05-25 15:41:37


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